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Written by: Carla Chinski
Contxto – For the past four years, the Argentine 3D Printing Congress has been active in Córdoba, Argentina. This year, however, the fifth annual event took place at the Metropolitan Center for Design in Buenos Aires from November 6 and 7.
On the agenda were digital inclusion and 3D tech entrepreneurship, in addition to workshops and several speeches. Topics ranged from 3D printing materials, their potential, not to mention prosthetics.
Emphasis on product development
With global companies such as Kodak developing filament for 3D printers, the event showcased some of the emerging technology. What sets the Argentine market apart is the nation’s emphasis on product development.
“In general and around the world, almost 70 percent of all 3D printing is used for prototyping,” said Demian Gawianski in an interview for 3D Print.
“However, this is not the case for Argentina, where industries are searching for ways to use the technology in manufacturing aids–like jigs, fixtures, platforms and tools (mainly in automotive). This means that they require more durable materials with high thermal and impact resistant qualities.”
According to a recent article, the 3D printing industry has surprisingly flourished in Argentina, despite ongoing economic woes. Some also believe that Argentina’s novel Knowledge Economy Law will benefit the niche sector.
“These companies have a lot of growth potential and could export,” said Gabriel Queipo, an aeronautical engineer for the National University of Technology (UTN). Recently, he participated in drafting a report for the National Institute of Industrial Technology (INTI) about the emerging field.
“But they need incentives such as those that will be granted by the Knowledge Economy Law that will replace the Software Law.”
3D printing in Argentina
In Argentina, the 3D printing industry has been on the rise for at least the past ten years. According to the INTI and its map of the 3D printing sector, in 2017 alone there were more than 180 enterprises in 16 provinces.
Numbers have also been steadily increasing, especially with Buenos Aires being the buzzing center for this activity. This includes 59 providers and 39 educational centers, according to INTI’s report.
One can roughly divide the Argentine business into small local initiatives aimed at developing technology for personal use. This includes small workshops and businesses, even the fashionable shops in the most popular neighborhoods.
There are also service providers with larger projects dedicated to creating innovative printers and supplies. These suppliers focus on creating engineering and medical instruments, such as prototypes for car parts or prosthetics.
Some standout companies of the local industry include Kikai Labs, Far-e, Victofeli, Exo, CHIMAK 3D, Trimaker and Trideo, with service providers booming across the landscape.
Trimaker, for example, has manufactured the “Cosmos II” model with impressive specs. About one year ago, it landed in Brazil due to local success. Moreover, it was one of the first 3D printers in Latin America, and it all started as a home project.
3D printing in times of economic recession
Given the economic crisis (which doesn’t look like it will get better any time soon), the objective of many medium-sized companies has been to reduce the price point and develop accessible printing machines. Other companies may consider expanding to other regional markets as well.
Due to this, many of the 3D printers in Argentina come from Europe, Asia and the United States. So, perhaps the outlook is ambivalent. On one hand, a booming local industry. While on the other, the uncertainty of how long such good luck will last, given the fragility of the sector.